The B-32 Dominator was initially intended as insurance against failure of the B-29 program; however, the success of B-29 development and operational deployment made cancellation of the Dominator a very real possibility at several points in its development. The Army Air Forces wanted to begin replacing B-17s and B-24s with B-32s in the summer of 1944. The plan called for Mediterranean-based B-24 bomb groups to transition first, followed by other groups in the 15th Air Force and finally 8th Air Force groups. Because the B-32 test program was so far behind schedule, however, not a single B-32 was ever sent to the Mediterranean or European Theaters of Operation.
In December 1944 the B-32 program was almost canceled again. This time it was saved pending completion of a service test program. While the service test proceeded, combat crew training was started in preparation for deployment to the Pacific (pending a successful service test.) The service test revealed several minor and a few major problems, and the program was near cancellation once again in the spring of 1945.
In March 1945 Gen. George Kenney, Commander of the Far Eastern Air Forces (5th AF), traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask for B-32s. He wanted B-29s but was turned down because of higher priority needs elsewhere in the PTO. After demonstrations in Washington, General Kenney convinced the Army General Staff to allow him to conduct a combat evaluation of the Dominator. A combat test plan of 11 missions was planned, and if successful, the B-32 was scheduled to replace all the B-24 groups in the Pacific Theater. Three B-32s were assigned to the 386th Bomb Squadron, 312th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force. The first combat test mission was flown against a supply depot at Antatet, Luzon, Philippines on May 29, 1945. The last mission of the generally successful combat test was flown on June 25, 1945, against bridges near Kiirun on the island of Formosa (Taiwan).
The 386th Bomb Squadron completed B-32 transition in July 1945 and flew six operational combat missions before the end of the war. Following the Aug. 9, 1945, bombing of Nagasaki, the 386th conducted photo reconnaissance missions and were attacked by flak and fighters on Aug. 17 and again by Japanese fighters on the Aug. 18. Although no Dominator was lost in combat, at least two were damaged. Sgt. Marchione, a photographer aboard one of the B-32s on the photo reconnaissance mission of Aug. 18, 1945, was killed when his bomber was attacked by fighters.
The last B-32 combat mission (also photo recon) was completed on Aug. 28, 1945. The 386th Bomb Squadron was ordered to cease combat operations two days later. Cancellation of the B-32 program came on Sept. 8, 1945, and production of Dominators was halted on Oct. 12. Flyable aircraft at Consolidated factories were flown directly to the scrap yard and all partially built B-32s were scrapped at the factory. The last remaining B-32 was scrapped in the summer of 1949.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: 10 .50-cal. machine guns plus 20,000 lbs. of bombs (maximum) Engines: Four Wright R-3350-23 Cyclone radials of 2,200 hp each (takeoff power) Maximum speed: 357 mph at 30,000 ft. Cruising speed: 290 mph Range: 3,000 miles with 10,000 lbs. bomb load Service ceiling: 30,700 ft. Span: 135 ft. 0 in. Length: 82 ft. 1 in. Height: 32 ft. 2 in. Weight: 100,000 lbs. (design gross weight) Crew: 10 Serial numbers: 42-108471 to 42-10884; 42-108525 to 42-108584; 44-90486